The New York Times yesterday pointed out that “Godwin’s Law has the health care debate in a hammerlock.”
In this brief interview, an older protester outside the Raleigh, N.C., office of Rep. Brad Miller, a Democrat, delivers the basic Obama-as-Hitler charge: “Hitler got rid of his undesirable citizens through ovens. Obama wants to get rid of people like me through hospice. . . . If [people] are a certain age, grim reapers calling themselves as counselors will go and tell them to take a pill and just die.”
What is Godwin’s Law? It began as an observation by Mike Godwin in 1990: “As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” The law has since been applied to discussions all around the Internet.
However, Godwin’s Law has a tradition attached to it in many groups: “…once this occurs, that thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress.”
So the health care argument is over. The “deathers” and other crazies lost. Can we move on to actually passing this thing, now?
Update 1: The Washington Times proves my point.
Update 2: Rachel Maddow, in October 2008, came up with a great corollary to Godwin’s Law:
I hereby propose a similar adage, not for online discussions but for American politics. I hereby submit, that the longer it‘s clear that liberals or Democrats are going to win an election, the longer it‘s clear that liberals and Democrats are winning an argument, the more likely it becomes that someone is going to get called a “commie,” “socialist,” “Bolshevik,” “commie,” “pinko,” “comrade,” “five-year planner.”
Read the whole section (it starts about a third of the way down the page). As usual, she’s got some great points.